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The Department of Education first revoked the status in December 2016, a decision that ACICS was able to challenge in court. Photo credit: Pexels.

ACICS plans to shut down operations by 2024

The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools said it currently oversees 44 institutions with 67 campuses around the United States.

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The future of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) has been questioned for years. Finally, last month, the U.S. the Department of Education revoked its recognition after determining that the accreditor continually failed to come into compliance with federal standards — such as lack of adequate resources and staff expertise, stated Higher Ed Dive.  

On Tuesday, ACICS said it will shut down operations by 2024, and that it has been in agreement with the Education Department’s interpretation criteria. ACICS also said it is planning to work with the 44 institutions under its domain to prepare for its dissolution — which have been scrambling to avoid losing access to federal financial aid since the recognition revocation. 

Around two-thirds of those institutions receive federal financial aid. Those that don’t receive it aren’t directly affected by the recent announcements, but they should seek a new accreditor to maintain compliance with state licensing agencies and other oversight bodies.

ACICS largely oversaw for-profit colleges and many policy advocates had called on the Education Department to end its recognition of ACICS, arguing that it approved institutions with abysmal student outcomes. 

Institutions accredited by ACICS will have 18 months to find a new accreditor or they will lose access to Title IV federal financial aid. The Education Department is also placing strict requirements on those colleges, such as limiting new enrollments and mandating they tell the students about the possibility of losing access to Title IV funding — which make it harder for them to continue operating.

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